Coja resolution 22.9.01


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Coja resolution 22.9.01

  1. 1. RESOLUTION ADOPTED IN THE SEMINAR ON LAW OF CONTEMPT OF COURT ORGANISED ON 22ND SEPTEMBER 2001 AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL CLUB BY THE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND JANHASTAKSHEPIt is resolved that the law of Contempt of Court in India as currently interpreted by the SuperiorCourts in India is highly antiquated and is acting as a serious impediment to the Freedom ofSpeech in India. It is significantly deterring a free and frank discussion and analysis of the Courtsand judiciary in India, It is having the effect of rendering the judiciary beyond public criticismand thus rendering it totally unaccountable. With the impeachment system having practicallyfailed and there being no other system of enforcing accountability of the judiciary, thediscouragement of public discussion and criticism of the judiciary is bound to have and is havinga deleterious effect on the functioning of our democracy.The power assumed by the judiciary (and later conferred on them by the Contempt of Courts Act1971) of deciding whether a particular criticism of themselves amounts to “scandalizing thecourt or lowering the authority of the court”, is the very negation of the n otion of Justice inwhich no person can sit in judgement over his own cause. This power has been misused by theCourts to go so far as to hold that no motives can be ascribed to judges or Courts and that eventhe truth of an imputation cannot be pleaded in defence in a charge of Contempt! The issue ofwhether truth can be a defence in a charge of contempt was referred for reconsideration to aConstitution bench many years ago, but the Supreme Court has not found the time to deal with it.Gagging the people from freely criticizing the Judiciary and examining the motives of Judgescannot be the method of inculcating respect for the judiciary. Respect cannot be forced and mustbe earned by its actions, which must be transparent and open to criticism, however trenchant.The Civil and Criminal law of defamation provide sufficient safeguards to protect the reputationof honest judges against scurrilous attacks.It has therefore become imperative for people of the Country to demand that Parliament amendsthe Contempt of Courts Act and makes it clear that no criticism of the Court howsoever severeand no imputation against a judge or the judiciary will constitute Contempt of Courts, unless it isshown that the imputation was baseless and malafide. In any case such a charge must not beheard and tried by the very judges against whom the criticism or imputation is made. This housetherefore calls upon Parliament to make suitable amendments to the Contempt of Courts Act1971, to incorporate the above features.